The Spanish Davis Cup team has made a rather unexpected move.
After the abrupt departure of captain Carlos Moya, officially for “personal reasons” but really because the Spanish players let him down in a major way by not making themselves available for a World Group playoff tie in Argentina last week (some played exhibitions), the new captain was named on Sunday and … it’s a female of the species.
The Federation’s president had reached out to Moya a second time, but his answer was no once again.
”In the future if my personal circumstances are different, but above all if the Davis Cup returns to being a real objective for the players then the door is always open on my part,” Moya said in a statement.
The new captain is Gala León Garcia, a 40-year-old former WTA Tour player.
So, all righty, then. As the RFET’s sporting director, León Garcia was given the mission three days ago to find a replacement for Moya.
She named … herself.
Garcia played 15 years on the WTA Tour, getting into the top 30 in singles. Since then, she has done some television, has this position with the RFET and has coached – women. She was affiliated with the academy in Valencia that has hosted players like David Ferrer and Marat Safin, sister Dinara, Sara Errani and Anabel Medina Garrigues, among others.
On her website, she lists among her coaching credits five years with Silvia Soler Espinosa, one with Ekaterina Makarova (taking her from 350 to No. 40 in the world, it says) and is currently the coach Lucia Cervera Vazquez, ranked 14th in Spain.
So all in all, it’s pretty out-of-the-box – to say the least.
God love Andy Murray, who is coached by Amélie Mauresmo and supports this notion strongly. He wasted no time getting on Twitter to give it the Scottish seal of approval.
congrats to Gala Leon Garcia for becoming first female Spanish Davis cup captain today… hopefully first of many!
— Andy Murray (@andy_murray) September 22, 2014
He’s just the best.
Now – how will the Spanish players take it?
One thing that works in León Garcia’s favour is that 2015 is the last opportunity to get Olympic-eligible for the Spanish male players so regardless of who the captain is (or how they feel about it), they’ll likely play in the Europe-Africa zone, where they were relegated after losing to Brazil in that playoff tie last week. But if they won’t play for Carlos Moya, an idol to many of them, who will they play for?
The Spanish Davis Cup team’s next rendez-vous isn’t until July, though. And according to El País, the nomination of León Garcia (more details will be revealed at a press conference Tuesday) is considered a strategic move because of that time frame. Officially, León Garcia leads the “transition” – in other words, they still have months to 1) keep talking to other candidates and/or 2) evaluate the job she’s doing.
One notable who expressed interest in the job, but who did not get it, was former world No. 1 and new father Juan Carlos Ferrero.
On the flipside, it doesn’t really seem as though León Garcia has any experience in this area – she’s never even been a Fed Cup captain, even, although she did play on the team for several years.
Which is not to say she’s not quite capable of doing it.
Personally, I find the appointment ironic in the extreme. Tennis in Spain, in a nutshell, is men’s tennis. Not shocking, considering the success of their male players through history. But they barely pay attention to women’s tennis at all. Attempts in recent years to hold WTA Tour events in that country have been met with an abject shrug of the shoulders. Attendance was pathetic – to the point where those tournaments just died, even with Spanish tennis legends like Conchita Martinez and Arantxa Sanchez Vicario at the helm.
If you think I’m exaggerating, it’s worth noting that in 2010, six prominent players of the Spanish Fed Cup team threatened to boycott the competition because they felt the Spanish Federation failed to give them any support. They didn’t end up going through with it, after some negotiations and some promises. But the threat itself spoke volumes.
So the reaction should be pretty interesting.